LGBT Students Question Dr. King's Civil Rights Stance

Rachel Martin

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Publication Date: February 23, 2012

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shared her life story at IPFW Wednesday night in honor of Black History Month.

Dr. Alveda King was casual and candid about her life and how it shaped the person she is today. But her messages about abortion and equality didn't set right with everyone in attendance.

“I’m definitely going to discuss issues of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and the civil rights of all people from fertilization until natural death,” Dr. King said. “I believe that I will bring a fresh concept and some things that need to be discussed.”

Dr. King is a professor, pastor, philanthropist and former Georgia State Representative. She is the daughter of civil rights activists Rev. A.D. King and Naomi Barber King. Her uncle was Dr. Martin Luther King. During her speech, she shared what it was like growing up in the King family during the civil rights movement. She says her childhood home in Birmingham, AL, and her father’s office in Louisville, KY, were bombed. She was also jailed as a youth in the 1960’s.

Dr. King spoke about the “Birth Control/Abortion” movement and how she was coerced into having an abortion by a doctor in an effort to sterilize Black women. Despite her first experience, Dr. King was a self-described Pro-Choice advocate who thoroughly believed every woman has the right to choose what she will do with her body. She had a second abortion voluntarily. Dr. King says it wasn’t until the 1970’s, before her third abortion, did she change her mind. She says she saw the ultrasound, saw the heartbeat and remembered that her Grandfather, "Daddy King," told her the baby was an actual person.

Now, Dr. King says she’s Pro-Life, and that every person has the right to be born. However, she still admitted in her belief of a woman’s right to choose. “If we can find a way to abort the baby, but not kill the baby, then do that," Dr. King said.

Dr. King also strongly echoed her uncle’s beliefs of civil rights and equality for all. She says her motto is, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” a quote from one her uncle’s many speeches. Dr. King believes everyone are brothers and sisters under God, and that there is only one race—the human race.

But her overall message of equality and civil rights was over-shadowed by past statements on gay rights. Many IPFW students with the United Sexualities group on campus attended Dr. King’s speech. Mari Love is a student at IPFW and part of the LGBT community. Love asked Dr. King how she can advocate civil rights, but not gay rights.

“She's not carrying on the message of Dr. Martin Luther King, which is equality for everyone no matter your race, sexuality,” Love said. “No matter what was going on in your world he was fighting for equality for everyone and we feel like her message is flawed.”

Love says in the Q&A portion of the night, Dr. King only gave “politically correct” answers, and never directly answered questions about her stance on gay rights.

“She was avoiding the point of all the LGBTQ students being here tonight,” said Love. “You can’t fight for civil rights and not fight for our rights too. A lot of the times she answered the questions by directly connecting it with abortion saying that she feels like all people have the right to life, which is not our issue.”

Dr. King says as a Christian, she believes being gay is wrong but still believes in human rights. She’s worked with many gay people and even has a gay family member. Dr. King went on to say everyone has equal human rights no matter if they're gay or straight.

“I believe that as teacher and as a member of the family of Dr. Martin Luther King, the most important thing to always convey is love,” Dr. King said. “And, that's love towards brothers and sisters. We are all one human race and people may have forgotten that or may not ever have heard that message.”

Watch a video clip

Click here for a photo of Alveda with students

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